If you’d like to contribute to Ellen’s fundraiser, you can do so by clicking the link below. They need all the help they can get to help with staggering medical bills, and for the inevitable expense that will present itself within the very near future.
As many of you know, our daughter Ellen has battled serious, excruciatingly painful cancer, received aggressive chemo and radiation treatments, and lately she began immunotherapy, all during the past three years.
I thank you all for making the memories in her mind a happy place for her to visit.
This is a father’s worst nightmare.
*Needless to say, I won’t be posting online articles for a while. I am, however, reading comments posted to my Facebook page. They provide some comfort.
If you’d like to contribute to Ellen’s fundraiser, you can do so by clicking the link below. They need all the help they can get to help with staggering medical bills, and for the inevitable expense that will present itself within the very near future.
Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes of this blog. Yes, this site has tons of moving parts that require many creative minds and many hands to turn the dials, push the buttons, and flip the switches. So without further ado …
Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins is in charge of our patrol division. It is he who offers details of traffic stops, responses to various types of calls, training information, etc. His teams also provide security in and around our property.
Our two sharp-dressed cops, Rusty and Willie, provide backup during all dangerous situations that may occur during the writing of blog articles.
Our in-the-field reporter, Jerry “Fake News” Journalyss.
Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken” Davis handles all calls involving runaway animals, cases of animal abuse, chicken theft, and more.
Third Shift Watch Commander, Lt. L. Arge Rat.
Larry “The Knife” Johnson, a master of disguise, plays the parts of a few bad guys on the site.
Paulie “The Painter” appears as himself.
Bad Breath Bill played himself during an article about edged weapons. Larry “The Knife” Johnson joined him in the post.
Major Mechanical serves as Chief Deputy.
O-R3 and Running Bad Guy, a regular on the site, teamed up to teach us about crime-fighting robots.
Facilities manager, Rosie, maintains a clean website—no profanity and no discussions of hot-button issues, such as politics, race, religion, etc.
The Man in the Moon supervises the daytime operations of Graveyard Shift.
For some reason, and we don’t know why, this weasel pops in from time to time.
Today, nothing and no one are safe from scandal. These two, Betty and Billy, for example, have been at it for quite a while now. We’ve threatened to fire them but they cannot seem to control their emotions.
Harry “Hot Sauce” McGee is our resident expert on non-lethal weapons.
“The Hand” appears throughout the site. Here we see him demonstrating the proper procedure for “drawing” a gun.
As a precaution, we routinely sweep the site for things that go boom, and other hazards. Here we see Beauregard the Bomb Dog doing what he does best.
To teach us about Rigor and Livor, the Mortis Twins, we brought in world-renowned death expert Frankie Stein.
Our aquatics experts, Dewey D. Duck and Ronnie Raft.
Dewey’s 1st cousin, “Three-Eye” is our resident surveillance expert.
Guarding us around the clock is Police K-9 Sha-Key. Never felt safer in my life.
Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom are on-hand to detail the effects of bioterrorism.
Skeeter Simpson teaches us about bloodstain patterns.
Of course, to maintain the grounds of the Graveyard Shift compound, we employ top professionals that include horticulture expert Gilly Goat.
Website repairperson and master carpenter Harry Hammer is never happy when links are broken.
Crime Scene Experts, Grant Greenfly and Bobby Blowflow, always know the finest of details. They’re like, well, flies on the wall.
Sergeant Sam Stinkfeet is a real pro at evidence collection and preservation.
Hematology expert O. Positive, along with a rare visit by renowned scientist B. Negative, provided much-needed information about blood evidence.
Officer survival expert Fred Fish taught us of the dangers associated with tunnel vision.
The “Yelling Woman,” played by Laura Largelungs, is featured throughout the site as the person/witness who’s screaming nonstop … at crime scenes, he-said/she-saids, domestic calls, at, well, everywhere. She/he is the person who “loses it” no matter the situation. And they never fail to get in the way at every step.
Larry Lipzipper – Miranda expert.
The part of the villain is played by actor Carl Cockroach.
Carl Cockroach, in character.
Prison information provided by Calvin Convict.
Weak Walter often describes the thought processes and actions of criminal suspects who enjoy fighting the police, but aren’t very good at it.
Our staff of law experts, led by by Judge I. Have Power, are always on standby to weed through legal issues.
Judge I. Have Power
Howard Hacker, our cyber crimes expert, is on standby to answer all questions.
As you can see, The Graveyard Shift is well-staffed by a slew of top experts. Without them we’d be just another blog.
Of course, there are many other experts who walk our hallways and occupy the offices of our elaborate compound. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time or space to showcase each of them today. And, there are many more
characters experts on the way, and you’ll soon them and some of our regulars in places other than this blog. As they say … STAY TUNED!
REGISTRATION IS OPEN!
2021 MurderCon takes writers behind the scenes, into actual murder cases where you’ll learn intricate crime-solving details, including how creepy-crawling insects assist detectives.
To help add a special twist to your crime novels, one of the world’s leading forensic entomologists, DR. JASON H. BYRD, is scheduled to present a spectacular presentation called “Forensic Entomology: Utilizing Insects in Criminal Investigations.”
In this session you’ll learn how “Insects that inhabit human tissue in postmortem situations can play a valuable part in death investigations. You’ll also learn how experts use medicocriminal entomology to help determine time of death, establish the geographical location where a death likely occurred, link suspects to victims, and even offer a different source of toxicology and DNA evidence. is an entertaining and educational discussion of the history of homicidal poisoning from the days of early man, down to the present, with case discussions of real poisoners drawn from criminal history. Also discussed will be the psychology of the poisoner, and poisons used by writers in their fictional works.”
Other MurderCon classes include forensic botany, cold cases, active homicide investigations, fingerprinting difficult surfaces (wet, sticky, etc.), case studies of the FBI, and much more.
I strongly urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn details not typically available for non-law enforcement.
MurderCon is a “killer” event!
Seats at this unique event for writers are LIMITED!
Depending upon which source is believed to be correct—Social Security or the census—Johnson Vandyke “Van” Grigsby was born in either February of 1888 or February of 1886, respectively. Grigsby, the son of freed slaves, however, said March of 1885 was the month and year of his birth.
In 1900, Grigsby and his family moved from their home in Shelby County, Kentucky to Kokomo, Indiana, the county seat of Howard County. Seven years later, Grigsby, an African-American, killed a white man named James Brown. The pair had been playing a game of five card stud poker in a saloon in Anderson, IL. when the two men engaged in a fight.
During the altercation, the men, as men often do, cursed at one another. Then racial slurs were uttered. As the fracas became intensely heated, Brown pulled a knife on Van. So Van left the bar to retrieve a knife of his own. When Van returned Brown picked up a chair and threw it at him. In response, Van lunged at Brown, with his knife, and subsequently stabbed Brown to death.
Grigsby, as the story goes, plead guilty to second degree murder in order to escape the electric chair.
Convicted of second degree murder in 1908, Grigsby began a new and extremely long chapter in life when he was delivered in a horse-drawn cart to the Indiana State Penitentiary in Michigan City. The trip lasted several days.
When he arrived at the prison on August 8, 1908, the same year the four-cylinder, twenty-horsepower Model T was first offered and sold for $825, Grigsby left behind his life as a free man and became “prisoner #4045.”
Upon his release in December 1974, inmate Grigsby had served 66 long years in the penitentiary, with 50 or so of those years spent in a ward for the insane. A doctor, though, finally examined him and declared that he was “not crazy.”
In spite of being a model prisoner who passed the time by reading (and re-reading) the Bible, a dictionary, and a complete set of encyclopedias from A_Z, he’d applied for parole 33 times before finally being released.
As a free man once again, Grigsby had to adjust to life on “the outside” as someone who’d been secluded from the world for nearly seven decades. While Grigsby’s former daily life had consisted of staring at concrete and steel and barbed wire, life beyond the prison walls passed him by, and when he finally stepped outside the front gate an entirely new world was there to greet him. The stark differences were surely like the moment in the Wizard of Oz film when things instantly transformed from black and white to vivid color. There were no subtle changes.
*The Wizard of Oz premiered on the big screen in 1939, eventually making its way to television in 1956. Grigsby was behind bars for both. Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the film, was born in 1922 and died in 1969. Her entire life and career took place during Grigsby’s period of incarceration.
In fact, during Grigsby’s time inside, he’d missed such “firsts” as …
- The first candy apple.
- The introduction of Skee ball (my favorite beach boardwalk arcade game).
- The invention of gin rummy.
- Erector sets.
- The painting of marker lines on roadways.
- Electric blankets.
- The first traffic lights.
- Fortune cookies.
- Hamburger buns.
- Lincoln logs.
- Tow trucks.
- Light switches.
- Grocery bags.
- Eskimo pies.
- Water skiing.
- Cotton swabs.
- Gas chamber executions.
- Masking tape.
- Corn dogs.
- Bubble gum.
- Ice cube trays.
- Reuben sandwiches.
- The first frozen food.
- Car radios.
- Chocolate chip cookies.
- Electric guitars.
- Golf carts.
- Parking meters.
- Stock car racing.
- Shopping carts.
- Beach balls.
- Soft-serve ice cream.
- Yield signs.
- Twist ties.
- Credit cards.
- Cat litter
- Cable television
- Ziplock bags.
- Radar guns
- The first man on the moon.
- The FBI was established only one month prior to Grigsby’s incarceration.
- 13 U.S. presidents had come and gone.
- National Anthem was adopted.
- U.S. engagement in Korean and Vietnam Wars began and ended.
- Alaska and Hawaii became U.S. states.
- Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
- President Kennedy was assassinated.
- Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
Grigsby’s entire life passed by in dreary stagnation while the world continued to rapidly spin and twirl and advance in gigantic leaps and bounds. Is it any wonder that when his feet did finally hit the pavement outside he’d stepped into a world that was unrecognizable to him. By the way, the first ready-mix load of concrete was delivered in Baltimore, Md. in 1913. The Hoover Dam, made of concrete, was constructed in 1936.
It must’ve been like finding oneself on a distant planet … a new world filled with magic and awe. He most likely saw a traffic light for the first time in his life. Music and art and speech, and cars, and trains, and stores and, well, everything—all brand new and shiny and spinning and flashing and whirling and whirring.
He was a 90 year old man who was launched directly from 1908 nearly 70 years into the future, a world where he was instantly expected to adapt. But, as should have been expected, Grigsby found himself unable to cope with such drastic change and voluntarily returned to prison, where he remained for 17 additional months before he was again released. This time, though, at the age of 91, he was out for good. He ended up in the Marion County Health Care Center, though, where he found much comfort at being told when to get up, when to eat, when to bathe, and when to go to bed. This being the only way he knew to live and to survive.
Grigsby’s situation is all too familiar to many men and women who serve long periods of time behind bars. Time, people, and life pass swiftly by, leaving long-serving ex-prisoners confused and lonely and, upon their release, they find it difficult to obtain employment in a world that’s unlike the one they knew prior to incarceration.
The stigma of being a convicted felon is already a huge hurdle to overcome when job searching, but add to it the lack of modern day skills and sudden forced adjustment to the unknowns makes the effort almost insurmountable without a hand up from friends and family. Unfortunately, it’s commonplace that friends and family have long since turned their backs on the folks serving extensive prison terms. That, and decent housing and educational opportunities are often unattainable for felons.
Therefore, the exasperated former inmates often see no way to survive without returning to what they know … criminal activity.
For these people to survive as productive citizens, somewhere, somehow, sometime, someone has to offer a true second chance. They need the opportunity to hold their heads high and not hang them down in shame for the balance of their time on earth. A means to earn back their rights and to remove the “scarlet letters” from their chests.
Of course, we all realize that some of these folks will never change and prison is, without a doubt, the best place for them. But others do regret the bad choices they’ve made, and they do indeed want and welcome change.
But to forever brand former prisoners, and to not provide a support system that keeps them current with the times and technology is, well, it’s not good for them nor is it good for society.
Johnny Cash told Grigsby’s story in a song called Michigan City Howdy Do..
Police officers face many difficult challenges during the course of their careers, challenges most people would avoid at all costs. For example, exchanging a few rounds of live ammunition with a doped-up bad guy. Or how about working really long, odd hours, or the fear of losing everything you own, including your freedom, family, and possibly your life, should you make a bad decision in that fraction of a split second you have to make it.
And there’s this—the joy of being slapped, hit, punched, scratched, spit on, stabbed, cut, cursed at, having urine or feces thrown on you, puked on, bled on, wearing goofy clothing and heavy gear, and seeing people hurt, sick, and even die right front of you knowing there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.
The danger level of the job is extremely high and getting worse every day. All it takes is a couple visits to this blog on any given Friday to know how dangerous the job really is.
And then there’s the ever popular low pay, little time off, missing holiday time with your family (if you still have one), high suicide rate, alcoholism, drug abuse, fear of serious injury or death, and divorce.
Still, through all the pain and agony and odd baggage that’s attached to every police officer, there’s always someone out there who’ll agree to enter into relationships with the poor saps. And that’s a good thing, right? Well, not always, and there’s a secret I’d like to share with you, the writer. First we must address the fact that you guys don’t always get cop romances right.
The Three “Romance” Categories of Fictional Cops
- The ones in relationships, the Hallmark movie/Nicholas Sparks-happy-ending kind of cop. Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware and Robin Castagna come to mind, even though the partners sometimes experience and on-again-off-again sort of relationship. And there’s Faye Kellerman’s crime-solving duo Peter Decker, a lieutenant in the LAPD, and his Orthodox Jewish wife Rina Lazarus.
- The sad sacks who couldn’t hang on to a steady love interest if he/she were a conjoined twin. Little black dress-wearing Kinsey Millhone, bless her heart, well, the closest thing she had to a longterm relationship is with her dear landlord, 80-something Henry Pitts, a baker who spends his free time creating crossword puzzles.
- Then there’s the cop who’s so screwed up emotionally even mental hospitals lock their doors when they see him coming. The latter never finds true love, obviously, and remains a loner, stumbling through book after book after book. I’ll leave this one to your imaginations and personal favorites.
But there’s another kind of relationship, one that’s not really talked about in the world of fiction, and it’s definitely kept under wraps in the real world. But I’m spilling the beans, right here and right now. But you must swear to secrecy because, well … it’s a taboo topic!
We Tried to Warn Them!
Part of the exit speech we presented to new recruits leaving the police academy consisted of a few basic warnings about the potential career-ending temptations cops are sometimes faced with, like access to tons and tons of cash, drugs, alcohol, the fast life, prostitutes, abuse of power … and Badge Bunnies.
Badge bunnies? What the heck are badge bunnies? That was my reaction, too, when I first heard about them during the police academy superintendent’s “Welcome to the police officer family” speech during my last day at the police academy.
* Please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not being sexist, just relaying some very real information. Of course this does work both ways. There are indeed male badge bunnies.
The term badge bunny is often defined as (from Urban Dictionary):
Badge Bunny: A female that goes out with only cops and firemen.
Badge Bunny: A female who enjoys “boinking” and actively pursuing sexual relationships with cops.
Badge Bunny: A female, usually of barely legal age, who spends her time chasing police officers, offering her “services” in hopes of gaining status among her badge bunny friends. (Yes, there are many cop groupies out there).
Badge Bunny Synonyms – holster sniffers, holster honeys, seat warmers, fender lizards, pig pals, beat babes. Cop wives refer to them by other names, such as whores, sluts, cause for divorce, and alimony bait.
New cops, the ones fresh out of the academy, are the officers who are most vulnerable to an attack from the vicious badge bunnies. They can’t help it, though. Recruits are young, good looking, and freshly toned from weeks and weeks of exercise and other training. They have shiny new equipment, sharply creased uniforms, tight haircuts, but more importantly, they have guns and badges! And they’re extremely naive.
Graduation day at the academy is like sending a pack of Roadrunners out into a world of Wile E. Coyotes. Badge Bunnies know the rookie’s weaknesses because they’ve studied the uniformed species for a very long time and they know how to cull the weak from the herd.
How does a badge bunny attack? They’re successful in various ways. For the sake of time and space I’ll list a few their deadly methods of operation.
- The fake car breakdown, needing an officer’s assistance.
- The fake prowler call, answering the door in a sexy outfit, or nothing at all.
- The grocery store maneuver. You couldn’t reach the Special K even though you’re a good foot taller and eighty pounds heavier than the cop. Yeah, right.
- Tapping the brake pedal repeatedly when they pass a target police car. The rookie officer sees the flashing brake lights each time the car passes his patrol car. Hmm, she must be signaling him. Is she in trouble? Or is she trouble …
- Speeding, knowing she has all the ammo she needs to get out of the ticket.
- Hanging out in cop bars, and gyms where cops are known to workout.
- Hanging out in restaurants, coffee shops, etc., frequented by graveyard shift cops.
- Hanging out at sporting events, especially softball games played by cop teams.
- Wearing tee shirts with logos that read, I Love Cops.
- Establishing friendships with police dispatchers for the purpose of meeting their gun-toting coworkers.
Relationships with badge bunnies rarely last. In fact most of them rarely make it into the light of day. These are secret relationships—brief meetings, encounters, and … well, I’ll leave it at that. I know, your next question is, “Since part of the attraction is the uniform and the cool cop equipment, where do they meet for the clandestine ‘encounters?'” How about …
- patrol cars – inside and out (lots of things to hold onto – light bars, spotlights, handcuffs…)
- surveillance vans
- police station warehouses and property rooms
- department offices
- small airport runways (for the deputies working the rural areas)
- wooded areas
- industrial parks
- SWAT vehicles
Well, you get the idea.
Some badge bunnies keep a scorecard and move on quickly to the next guy with a gun. Sometimes, but not often, the encounters turn into lasting relationships, with kids, nice homes, cute puppies, picket fences, and everything else that comes with a solid marriage.
I offered a brief statement to the recruits I trained when I was a field training officer. It went something like this, “Keep your gun in your holster and you won’t have to worry about shooting the wrong person.” Now, there were two messages there, right? However, rookies rarely listened to the hidden meaning.
I could practically read their thoughts the second I said those words, and I knew they wanted to say to me, “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.”
Okay, so you’re a bit concerned that you may be experiencing a bit of badge-bunnyitis? Well, if you have any two of these symptoms, you should steer clear of all police stations until the feelings pass.
- Like moths to a flame, you are attracted to bright and shiny things, especially badges and guns.
- You prefer handcuffs and leg irons over diamond bracelets and anklets.
- You often speed past police cars, pull over, and “assume the position” before the officer catches up to you … even if it’s the day of your wedding … to someone else.
4. In anticipation of a pat-down, you attach your apartment key to a weapon you’ve hidden beneath your clothing.
5. 911 to you is free access to phone sex.
6. You often initiate high speed pursuits. However, it is you who’s doing the chasing.
7 The scent of gun oil is your preferred aphrodisiac.
8. The sounds of leather creaking and keys jingling sends your heart into pitter-patter overdrive.
9. Blue lights and sirens = foreplay.
10. The phrase that makes your knees turn to jelly is,“Turn around and place your hands behind your back.”
* Obviously, this piece is intended as a tongue-in-cheek look at a situation that’s very real. In this article, though, I’m only referring to the bad bunnies—the scorekeepers. However, please know there are plenty of folks who are simply attracted to a certain kind of person, especially the men and women whose career choice includes wearing a uniform as part of their means to earn a living, and they are wonderful people who have wonderful, loving, meaningful and lasting relationships. The others, well …
For over a dozen years, the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) has delivered scores of outstanding workshops, classes, presentations, live demonstrations, and actual hands-on training, all taught by some of the county’s top experts. We’ve also offered MurderCon, a special event, both as an in-person event and virtually. In addition, in 2020 we launched Writers’ Police Academy Online, a series of live, interactive daylong seminars featuring acclaimed experts and well-known bestselling authors.
Our advertising campaign typically consists of word of mouth, an annual (inexpensive) ad on the site “ShawGuides,” and through the use of Facebook promotion—a simple $100 ad prior to the opening of each registration. Since so many writers have a presence on social media advertising on Facebook was an obvious choice to reach our target audience and we’ve done so for years, including advertising the January 2021 seminar. That, and we do all that we can to keep expenses to a bare minimum in order to offer low registration fees.
As many of you know, the WPA exists solely to help writers and, in doing so we’ve always maintained a neutral environment about politics, race, religion, gender, sexual preferences, etc.
Needless to say, I was shocked when Facebook rejected the ad I submitted yesterday for the upcoming February 27 seminar “Search Dogs, Search Warrants, a Search for Words, and Lies.” I immediately appealed but the ad was again instantly rejected. I even re-designed the ad, but no luck. Another rejection. Their final message to me was that the ad was rejected because it includes “Social Issues, Elections or Politics.” Now that was puzzling. I’d already had to stop using our logo, the “gun/pencil” because it was deemed as offensive to some and portrayed violence.
The situation is extremely frustrating for a couple of reasons—we can’t advertise the event in time for the February 27 seminar, and there’s no means to speak with anyone at Facebook who could explain what it is that’s offensive about the ad pictured below.
So I need your help, please, to spread the word about this fabulous, unique event. The lineup of classes and instructors is superb. If you will, share it on social media, tell your friends, announce it at your writer groups, etc. It’s okay to post and share. I’m just not permitted to purchase an ad for the event.
Here are the full details, and I thank you in advance for your support!
“Search Dogs, Search Warrants, a Search for Words, and Lies”
When: February 27, 2021
This daylong live and interactive seminar features three renowned professionals who will share intimate knowledge of K-9 search and rescues and the recovery of human remains; laws and procedures governing search warrants, pursuits, and police use of force; how detectives use the words of suspects and witnesses—nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words—to detect deception or hidden information.
At the end of day international bestselling author Heather Graham presents a dynamic workshop on the craft of writing titled “It’s All in the Words.”
Instructors include Carrie Stuart Parks, Sheri Lewis Wohl, Wisconsin Judge Kevin Rathburn, and the fabulous Heather Graham Pozzessere!
Registration is officially open. Reserve your seat today!
February 27, 2021 – $99
Three renowned professionals share intimate knowledge of K-9 search and rescues and the recovery of human remains; laws and procedures governing search warrants, pursuits, and police use of force; how detectives use the words of suspects and witnesses—nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words—to detect deception or hidden information.
At the end of this daylong, live and interactive seminar, international bestselling author Heather Graham presents a dynamic workshop on the craft of writing titled “It’s All in the Words.”
Schedule (Times are EST)
10:30 – Login and Test
10:45 – Welcome
11:00 – 12:20
Search Warrants, Pursuits, and Police Use of Force
This course will describe the general legal standards for the use of force by police such as warrants, including anticipatory, knock, and No Knock, warrants and pursuits. Instructor, Kevin Rathburn
12:20 – 12:50
12:50 – 2:10
More than the Nose: K9 Search Teams in the 21st Century
K9 Search Teams in the 21st Century is a journey into the world of canine search teams. What does it take to be field ready? What makes a good search dog? Learn the difference between what it looks like on TV and what it’s really like out in the field. Learn how and why it’s changing from search and rescue volunteers to unpaid professionals. Instructor Sheri Wohl
2:20 – 3:40
Don’t LIE to Me!
Law enforcement uses numerous tools to identify deception in witnesses and suspects, depending on their background and training. Learn one of the more unique skill sets in recognizing deception through language–by reviewing the written statements. Understand how the very nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words, and other clues alert detectives to deception or hidden information. Add richness and depth to your writing by utilizing and weaving content statement analysis into your manuscripts. Instructor, Carrie Stuart Parks
3:50 – 5:10
“It’s all in the Words”
A dynamic workshop on the craft of writing taught by one of the all-time great authors of suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas family fare. Instructor, Heather Graham
Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist. She travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RCMP, and is the largest instructor of forensic art in the world. Her best-selling novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered numerous awards including several Carols, Inspys, the Christy, Golden Scroll, Maxwell, and Wright. As a professional fine artist, she has written and illustrated best-selling art books for North Light Publishers.
Sheri Lewis Wohl is a 30-year veteran of the federal judiciary, a search and rescue K9 handler, and the author of more than fifteen novels, several of which feature search dogs. She is a field ready member of search and rescue in Eastern Washington and for the last nine years, has been a human remains detection K9 handler deployed on missions throughout Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
Sheri has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Communications from Eastern Washington University and a Master’s degree in Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Kevin Rathburn became a full-time faculty member at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in 2000 after serving as an adjunct instructor for nine years. Prior to that, Mr. Rathburn served for ten years as an Assistant District Attorney for Brown County in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 2004, Mr. Rathburn became Municipal Judge for the Village of Suamico. Mr. Rathburn holds BAs in political science and economics from St. Norbert College (1987) and a JD from Marquette University Law School (1990).
While in Law school, Mr. Rathburn served as a law clerk to several Milwaukee Circuit Court Judges handling civil and criminal matters and the appeal of cases from local boards and municipal court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also completed an internship in public sector labor law with the law firm of Mulcahy and Wherry and an internship with Blue Cross & Blue Shield Insurance Company.
Mr. Rathburn is a State Certified Instructor for the Wisconsin Technical College System. He is also certified by the Department of Justice, Training and Standards Board in the areas of Child Maltreatment, Constitutional Law, Corrections Law, Courts and Jurisdiction, Criminal Law, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Domestic Violence, Ethics in Criminal Justice, Interviews and Interrogation, Juvenile Law, Report Writing, Sexual Assault and Sensitive Crimes. Mr. Rathburn recently helped create Constitutional Law and Juvenile Law Manuals and update the Criminal Law Manual for the WI. Dept. of Justice, Training and Standards Bureau.
Mr. Rathburn has been a member of the Department of Justice Legal Context Advisory Committee since 2005. He has also served as a Commissioner on the Governor’s Commission on School Violence and the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission. He is a past member of the Brown County Youth Aids Committee, Brown County Council on Child Sexual Abuse, Brown County Subcommittee on Underage Drinking, Brown County Consortium on Dysfunctional Families and St. Vincent Hospital’s Child Health Team.
Since 1991 Mr. Rathburn has made presentations on a wide variety of legal topics at numerous conferences including the Wisconsin Jail Association, Wisconsin Juvenile Officers and Juvenile Intake Workers, the State of Wisconsin DARE Officers Association, the Wisconsin LETAO, the Wisconsin Criminal Justice Instructors, the Wisconsin Arson Investigators and the Wisconsin Criminal Investigator’s Association. Mr. Rathburn frequently provides legal updates for law enforcement and correction agencies. He has also provided in-service training for Unified Tactical instructors, administrators, corrections officers, dispatchers and casino security staff.
Since 2007, Mr. Rathburn has been a frequent speaker for the State Supreme Court in its training of Municipal Judges and Court Clerks. Since 2012 Mr. Rathburn has provided Basic Intake Training for Juvenile Intake Workers throughout Wisconsin. He is a trainer for the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development system. Since 2016 Mr. Rathburn has been a featured presenter at the annual Writer’s Police Academy. He recently completed work with James Patterson and Maxine Paetro on a crime novel (The 17th Suspect). He has also presented to officers from England and the Caribbean Islands on multiple occasions in recent years.
In 1994, Mr. Rathburn received the Optimist Law Award for his contribution to the legal field. He also received an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2004, 2005, & 2006 from Who’s Who Among Teachers in American Universities & Colleges and from Who’s Who in Collegiate Faculty in 2007 and 2008. In 2017-18 he was included in Who’s Who in Technical College Faculty. In 2019, Mr. Rathburn received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
Mr. Rathburn says his family is the most important part of his life. He spends as much time as possible with his wife, Beth, and their three sons, Sam, Jack, and Ben. He enjoys landscaping, gardening and walks with Beth and their dog Sophie. He spends many of his late evening hours reading and writing on legal topics. He also likes reading espionage or mystery novels and watching movies; especially westerns. He is an avid Packers fan and enjoys following the Badgers, Brewers, and Bucks
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, sci-fi, young adult, and Christmas family fare.
She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. Heather has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is the proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was awarded the prestigious Thriller Master Award in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA. Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.
Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts a Vampire Ball and Dinner theater raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region. She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile
Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.
There’s a current PC craze that’s attacking practically everything on the planet, from condemning anti-animal language to the lyrics of Christmas songs,. Even certain colorings of cartoon vegetables is taboo. So let’s poke around to see if we can find a few more horrible examples of politically incorrectness, such as those terribly insensitive and offensive Christmas tunes.
Starting with …
“I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas”
This lively tune opens with a discriminatory tone that’s sure to send other animals scurrying to their safe spaces. Here, see for yourself.
“I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do.”
That’s blatant and out and out discrimination toward all other animals. And it only gets worse.
“Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles, no rhinosaurus
I only likes hippopotamuses [sic]
And hippopotamuses [sic] like me, too.”
I see this one ending up in civil court where a softy judge will immediately order that crocs and rhinos also “will do.”
This song discriminates against the folks who live in rural areas. It’s also bullying to those who don’t have access to “holiday style” attire.
“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style”
Next, OMG, what about the feelings of grumpy people who don’t like smiling. Their right to frown as they wish have most certainly been trampled upon in this blatantly derogatory song.
“In the air
There’s a feeling
Meeting smile after smile
And on ev’ry street corner you’ll hear.”
“The Christmas Song”
Lyrics by Mel Torme
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose.”
Not fair. Not fair. Not fair. Jill Frost loves to nip at noses just as much as Jack. Why no mention of her playful nose-nibbling.
And, Mr. Mel Torme, what about the good folks over the age of 92 who’re now actively enjoying the one or two holiday songs left that we’re able to hear on our radios? Obvious age discrimination. Shame, shame and double shame.
“And so, I’m offering this
Simple phrase to kids from
One to ninety-two
Altho’ it’s been said many times
Many ways; “Merry Christmas to you”
Speaking of Mel Torme, dod you know he played drums? Well …
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas”
This one is appalling. What about bread and rice puddings? Why is figgy pudding given the nod in this popular tune? The dessert menu should be inclusive. Whomever is hiding behind the name “We” must be publicly shamed on social media. Dox them one and all!
“We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer.”
“Up on the Housetop”
“Up on the housetop reindeer pause
Out jumps good old Santa Claus
Down thru the chimney with lots of toys
All for the little ones
Climb down Onion Jenkins’ chimney if you want, but you can count on ole Onion to pop a cap in your red-suited rear end. Besides, it’s age discrimination to brings gifts to kids but not to the grown folks. And hey, why’re you bringing gifts to Onion’s kids, anyway? You don’t know them, you perv.
“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
Here’s the one that sends me over the edge. This song is flat out evil, from promoting violence and death to outing poor grandma’s drinking problem. They even went so far as to call her out for her addiction to prescription medication. Yes, instead of helping the poor and pitiful old woman seek help for her medical issues, they sent her out into the snowy night where she was run down and killed by a careless reindeer.
“Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.
She’d been drinkin’ too much egg nog,
And we’d begged her not to go.
But she’d left her medication,
So she stumbled out the door into the snow.”
To add insult to injury, knowing her state of mind and level of intoxication, they didn’t bother to check on grandma until the next morning when they found her trampled and frozen corpse mashed into a snowbank.
“When they found her Christmas mornin’,
At the scene of the attack.
There were hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminatin’ Claus marks on her back.”
Next we see Grandpa enter the picture. Doesn’t care a wit that his wife’s dead body is in a crumpled heap out on the front lawn, covered in snow with deer prints stamped into her skull. Instead, he’s partying with his cousin, Belle, the family “ho, ho, ho.” Now, I’m not one to spread gossip, but I’m thinking the perfect stocking stuffer for both Grandpa and Belle would be a couple of cans of Acme Incest Repellent. I’m just sayin’.
“Now were all so proud of Grandpa,
He’s been takin’ this so well.
See him in there watchin’ football,
Drinkin’ beer and playin’ cards with cousin Belle.”
*This article is entirely non-PC and is intended as a tongue-in-cheek bit of weird humor. No hippos or grandmas were harmed during today’s writing. Cousin Belle and Grandpa, however, were immediately transported to the nearest Acme Rehab Center for Incestaholics.
Merry Christmas to all from Denene and Me. We hope to you at a Writers’ Police Academy event very soon. In the meantime …
Please stay safe. Enjoy time with your family. And hug your kids.
Have you ever called a plumber to fix a leaky water pipe in your kitchen, and when he arrived you told him not to use his tools and training to repair the problem?
Well, consider the person who did just that, telling the plumber who responded to her call for help, “I know it’s probably the worst leak you’ve ever seen. Dangerous, actually. But,” she continued with a few batts of her mail-order eyelashes. “Can’t you just talk to my pipe? I’m sure it’ll simply fix itself if you talk nicely to it.”
Meanwhile, both she and the plumber were soaked to the gills. The steadily rising water filled the house until it finally burst through the front door. Torrents of roiling and boiling whitewater rushed down the front steps like the falls on Flat Rock Pond. Kids used metal garbage can lids as kayaks in the
lawn lake. The woman’s dog somehow managed to climb onto the roof and her goldfish were jumping like dolphins in the wake trailing the trash can tops. It was outright chaos, and it all happened within a blink of an eye.
“No, ma’am,” said the plumber. “Talkin’ ain’t gonna git it done this time. I’ve already been here three times this weekend—”
“But, I love my pipes,” she said. “They’re good pipes. Please try talking to them. Just once more …”
Her tears dropped into the knee-deep pond that swirled and twirled and bubbled around her legs like a Bermuda Triangle whirlpool. The once tiny leak was then gushing like a geyser that would shame Old Faithful.
But the master of cold on the right, hot on the left, and the yucky stuff don’t run uphill, knew there’s no other way. They’d both drown if he didn’t do something. So he reached into his tool bag and came out with “Big Red,” the best 24-inch pipe wrench Sears and Roebuck had ever sold on clearance. He swallowed hard once and then turned to face the trouble.
This is what he was trained to do and he reacted without fear or hesitation. A quick side-step, a firm grasp on the valve with his left hand, a lightning fast strike with the wrench, and it was over. The chaos ceased and his adrenaline level subsided. He took a deep breath. Then …
“MY BABY!” shouted the woman. “You hurt my baby!”
Sound silly? Well, hold on a second. Police officers face similar circumstances nearly every day of their lives. People who are in danger at the hand of loved ones call 911 begging for help. They fear physical harm and/or death. They’re scared for their family members.
Sometimes they’re so distraught you can almost smell the fright over the phone lines. But, when the boys and girls in blue come sliding to a stop in the driveway, with lights winking and blinking and sirens squalling and wailing, well, this is what they often encounter, starting with the initial call for help.
“911, do you have an emergency?”
“Help me! Little Johnny has a gun and he’s been pointing it me and Jimmy Billy. Twern’t loaded at first but now it is and he done lost his what little sense he had. He ain’t taken his crazy medicine in pert’near a week. I’m skeert for our lives. And Maw ain’t here to talk to him.”
“I’m sending someone right away.”
“Good. We’s all locked in the bathroom now, ’cause that little bastard’s a shootin’ up the place. He’s teched in the haid, I tell you. Gets it from my wife’s side of the family. They’s all one seed short of makin’ a whole watermelon.”
“Thar he goes agin. Please hurry!”
“Sir, stay on the line. Officers are on their way.”
“Yes, ma’am. Got nothin’ else to do but duck.”
Three officers arrive and they’re met by Little Petey Paul who’s made his way outside and is standing in the gravel driveway holding his father’s old revolver.
Keep in mind, though, that the Little Petey Pauls of the world never seem to be small in stature. They’re typically 6’2″, 235, foaming at the mouth, with both eyes are spinning like tops. And, of course, they’re shirtless, barefoot, and highly UN-medicated.
As always, this is the time when dear old Maw comes driving up in family pickup truck, a 4×4 with a gun rack in the rear window and a sticker on the bumper that reads, DRIVER CARRIES NO CASH, JUST A BULLET FOR YOUR ASS!
The family matriarch jumps out of the truck and tosses the remainder of her non-filtered cigarette into a pile of empty beer cans beside the plywood cutout of granny bending over in the flower garden. One officer goes to meet her, keeping her out of harm’s way.
Other officers draw their weapons and order the human anvil to drop his handgun. Instead, the human stump points the .357 at the officers. He grinning like the possum the family had for supper the night before. The lead officer starts talking.
“Please put down the gun, son. We just want to help you. Everything’s gonna be okay. I promise.”
“Don’t you hurt my baby boy!” Maw screams” He’s a good boy. Just talk to him.”
Little Petey Paul licks the barrel of the pistol, then holds it against his head. Spittle dribbles down his chin. He’s crying. His teeth clench together like the jaws of a vise.
Maw tries to push her way past the officer. “Assholes. Let me go. That’s my baby. Just talk to him. Put those guns away! You’re gonna hurt my precious little boy!”
Little Petey Paul quickly points the gun at Maw. “You bitch. Wouldn’t gimme no money for beer. I’m gonna kill you dead right here and now!”
The gun goes off.
The officers have no choice. Each of them fired a couple of rounds. A second later, Little Petey Paul lies dead in the dirt and gravel with four small bullet holes marking his flesh. The officers each feel that sudden drop of adrenaline followed by the sinking, sickening, gut-wrenching sensation that comes with taking the life of another human. The second-guessing begins immediately. Their lives are forever changed, and not for the better. Possibly ruined.
“My little baby! Why didn’t you just talk to him. You didn’t have to kill him!” Maw screams, and then begins punching, kicking, and clawing at the officer’s face. The rest of the clan pours out of the house—Pa, Andy, Sandy, Randy, Candy, Tandy, Mandy, Handy, Pandy, and Earl, Jr. They’re screaming and struggling with the officers. Back up arrives to help quell the escalating disturbance.
“All you had to do is talk to the boy,” Pa says. “Maw knowed how to handle him. Talk to ’em is all you had to do … He’s such a good boy.”
I guess the point to ponder here is, well, don’t call a plumber if you don’t want your leak fixed.
Dreams and even nightmares are often great fodder for a story or scene. Sometimes, though, those nocturnal fantasies are absolutely bizarre and offer no help whatsoever. Not even a tiny twist for an ending.
A questionable murder (above image), to say the least, is a perfect example of the gaggle of “punctual” characters who, for some reason, show up in my mind from time to time. However, these guys often come to me while my eyes are open and I’m wide-freakin-awake. Yep, my brain is a weird one. So are the things found inside my ever-working twisted mind. Such as …
The renowned 100-yard Em Dash
Whatcha’ gonna do ’bout the puppies?
Colon owners consider semi-colons as mixed breeds, therefore they prefer to keep the two apart. This is to prevent an unfortunate encounter that could result in large litters of periods and commas.
Do you have your ellipses glasses?
Punctuation marks have been known (in my mind) to join together to wreak havoc on the weather.
Braces for Junior
Quotation Marks have places to go!
Too many questions …
Cops truly see and experience the odd, weird, and often dark side of society, and this experience is not limited to dealing with criminals and all the lovely things bad guys offer their communities. For example:
- The preacher who killed his lover, a woman married to another man. The reverend shot her dead because because she was sleeping with another man, a fellow who was also not her husband. During the fit of jealous rage the murdering minister also killed the “other man.”
- While checking what was thought to be an abandoned vehicle parked at the end of a deserted, cracked asphalt stretch of dead-end country road, a deputy was surprised when he discovered a local government mental health professional inside the car engaged in frantic sexual activity with a young girl under the age of 17. One of the official duties of the professional person was to counsel victims of sexual abuse.
- A 911 call from an area by-the-hour motel led law enforcement officers to a room rented by a known prostitute. She dialed the police when her “client” began to get a bit too rough for her liking. The client was a prominent business leader who also taught Sunday School at his church.
- A probation officer was shot to death when he was caught having sex with a probationer’s girlfriend. The recently released offender arrived home early from work, discovered the pair in bed, and then quickly grabbed a gun and proceeded to fire rounds at the man who was in charge of his supervised release. Well, the shooter’s aim was pretty good because he shot the nude man in the back as he climbed out of the couple’s bedroom window with his clothing in hand.
The probation officer managed to stumble a few steps before collapsing onto the sidewalk. When police arrived they found the probation officer’s naked body curled in a fetal position. Lying next to him were his clothing, including the shiny badge that was still attached to his belt.
- While working graveyard shift, an officer parked his patrol car on a side street where he began to complete a bit of paperwork. While there he witnessed a state law enforcement agent park his government vehicle in a dark area of a neighborhood. The agent opened the car door and shut is slowly and quietly and then trotted to the side door of a house. The door opened and a woman let him inside. The woman was the wife of a corrections officer who worked night shift at a prison. The agent’s wife who was most likely at home asleep, had no idea that her husband was cheating with one of her friends.
- While running radar late at night on a lonely stretch of highway, an officer stopped a car that was swerving from side to side. When the officer had a look inside the vehicle he saw that the male driver wore a corrections uniform. His passenger, a totally nude (male), was handcuffed to the car door. His corrections uniform was on the backseat in a crumpled pile. The pair of COs said they were merely out for a late night, relaxing drive to unwind after finishing their shift at the prison.
Bad guys say the darndest things, especially when operating their mouth parts while under the influence of alcohol, coke, or meth. Here are some of the things the little darlings said to me over the years. Use your imagination to determine my response(s).
1. “Pepper spray me. Go ahead, I dare you. Spray me.”
2. “I’ll kill your family.”
3. “I know where you live.”
4. “You think you’re man enough?” … “You’re breaking my arm! Ouch! Ouch! I give up! Ouch!”
5. “I’m not getting out of my car, and you can’t make me.”
Well, I could, and I did. For details, please read my article, “It’s Christmas, So Let’s Pull a Fat Guy Through a Car Window.”
6. “I’ve got a gun.”
7. “You’re not big enough to put me in that police car.”
8. “Don’t put your hands on me.”
9. “You won’t live long enough to put those handcuffs on me, you son of a bit**h” Twenty minutes later … “Could you please please loosen these cuffs? They’re hurting my wrists.”
10. As he rips off his shirt and flexes, while backing up … “You don’t want none of this.”
11. “If I ever catch you out of uniform, I’ll …”
12. “Does your dog bite? AHHHHH!! Get him off! Get him off!!
13. “If you think that fancy nightstick will stop me, th…”
14. “Yeah, what are you going to do if you catch me?”
15. “You’re going to have to come in and get me.”
16. “I’m not scared of you or your dog. I don’t care if it is a rottweiler.”
17. “You can’t arrest me. I play golf with your boss.”
18. “You can’t prove none of that.”
19. “I’m glad you’re the one who caught me. We’re friends, right?”
20. While working undercover narcotics. “You have to tell the truth when I ask if you’re a cop, right?”
The list, my friends, is endless. As is the stupidity of many.
Countdown to the WPA
The Writers’ Police Academy
Get to Know Lee Lofland
Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedure and crime-scene investigation, and is a popular conference, workshop, and motivational speaker.
Lee has consulted for many bestselling authors, television and film writers, and for online magazines. Lee has appeared as an expert on national television, BBC Television, and radio shows.
Lee is the host and founder of the Writers’ Police Academy, an exciting, one-of-a-kind, hands-on event where writers, readers, and fans learn and train at an actual police academy.
To schedule Lee for your event, contact him at [email protected].